Originally Posted By: Smike
Seriously I really want to know what it is about Obama that makes him a good candidate other then he is not McCain.

Because he's the only remaining candidate who may ask us to take responsibility for our government again.

It seems to me that there's a pervasive attitude that if we just elect the right people, our government will solve our problems for us (whether that's energy independence, lower taxes, health care reform).

I don't think that's how government works--or, actually, that's one reason why it's not working. The government isn't "them," it's "us" whether we like it or not. And if government is acting irresponsibly, perhaps it's because too many people are demanding something for nothing (a trend I trace back to the Reagan years, though it's probably been there far longer than that).

I think we need to reframe our relationship to our government. It's not just the sum of what we want, but what we're willing to do. I ask my friends when was the last time a politician said you'd actually have to do something on an issue that you said was important to you. And I get blank stares in response. That's a bipartisan failure of leadership. For how can we expect "the government" to address problems without not only consent but action from the citizenry?

Things we say we care about are things we should be willing to do something about. Obama does carry that message to some extent, though I think it's gotten lost in the past few months. He did say in his nomination acceptance speech that if we're going to make progress on energy, we're going to have to start making different choices in our lives; at least that's a start. By contrast, I'm tired and ashamed of calls to "support the troops" without any request for any action whatsoever on our part to at least pay for the costs of these operations. It's not supporting the troops to borrow the money from China.

I know everyone can read into the Obama campaign what he or she wants. But I think that with him there is at least a chance that we might be asked to live up to our obligations and responsibilities as citizens. Want that tax cut? What are you willing to give up for it? Want to fix Social Security? What are you willing to do to help maintain its solvency? Want big money out of government? Are you willing to put $10 a year towards public campaign financing for Congress (which would total far more than what was spent in the 2006 election)? If we all do a little bit, these problems can be resolved. And if a majority say no, then that's democracy. But who has ever asked us?

I think Obama might ask us these questions. I know McCain won't. He's offering more tax cuts while promoting longer military engagements that are already funded by driving us deeper into debt (which is why I cringe when I hear Democrats talk about money that we're spending in Iraq and using it here instead, when it's all borrowed).

On specifics, Obama has a health care plan that might work; McCain doesn't. I'm generally a free market person, but it seems clear to me that the market doesn't put the incentives in the right places for health care. Europeans and others get as good health outcomes or better with far less expense. And the present system is harming our economic competitiveness. On the evidence, I see this issue as no contest. (The claims that Democrats will promote "socialized medicine" are false. No country except Great Britain has health care deliverers that are all government employees. They have government regulated insurance, most of which are private but non-profit. And it seems to work better than our system.)

On fiscal policy, I can't understand McCain's opposition to letting the Bush tax cuts expire on the wealthy. He opposed those cuts when they were proposed because they weren't paid for and went mostly to upper income earners. The economy did fine in the 1990s; it won't suffer if the top bracket goes back to that rate, and it would help substantially with our fiscal mess. (I speak as a participant in that bracket.) For those not in that bracket, Obama says personal taxes will not go up. I may not like how that affects the overall budget numbers, but Obama has always been a political pragmatist.

On energy, I think Obama would try to move us off of oil faster than McCain, and I see no reason for delay. Europe will require new fleet standards of 48 mpg. by 2012, and the best we can do is 35 mpg. by 2020? 45% of our oil goes into our cars. If we just got better fuel efficiency, we could easily cut our oil usage by 20% in 10 to 15 years, by which time cars that don't use oil at all could be coming onto the market (if we're serious about solving this problem). The "drill everywhere now" ethic will only delay the day of reckoning, which is not to our advantage: even if we increase domestic production by 50%, we'd still be importing about half our oil, much of it from countries that don't like us. We can deal with this problem if we start making different decisions. We can start doing so today, not in seven years when offshore oil might be coming online (which, by the way, will not be enough to substantially affect oil prices).

On foreign policy, I think Obama has a far more nuanced and effective world view than McCain. McCain sounds like the "talking is appeasement" approach of the Bush administration. Obama realizes that our power is limited and that we need to reestablish our connections to our allies if we want to promote our interests. Obama, as a pragmatist, is less likely to allow ideology to trump facts as the present administration has done over and over again.

Finally, I think Obama will respect the Constitution more than McCain. McCain, to his credit, has said he will close Guantanamo. This is sensible if only because it has cost us far more than it has benefited us. But McCain does seem to think he can ignore congressional law on wiretapping (and who knows what else). This administration has done great damage to the founding principles of this nation: separation of powers, and checks and balances (and habeas corpus). I hold fast to those principles not because they're old, but because they work and help preserve our freedom. I think Obama, who certainly knows and respects constitutional law, is the better candidate to restore what I think this country, or at least I, stand for.